Taiwan, officially called the Republic of China, is a delightful island.
Located off the southwestern coast of China, Taiwan is about the same size as Belgium and was named Formosa Island by Portuguese explorers in the 16th century due to its stunning natural beauty.
Chinese mainlanders started settling in Taiwan dating back to the 17th century, and the Japanese colonization of the island ended in 1945. Due to its historical mixture of influences, Taiwan has its own distinct culture.
Not many people know just how amazing the country is, which makes it one of the most underrated destinations in Asia.
Here are 23 reasons why you should visit Taiwan immediately.
1. Let's start with the food. Taiwanese people love to eat. The dishes people miss the most when they leave include beef noodle soup, soup dumplings from Din Tai Fung, and the uniquely Taiwanese oyster omelets.
2. If you've never had Taiwanese breakfast, you're missing out. Fuhang Doujiang in Taipei has a line out the door every morning and the wait for soy milk, egg crepes, and fried dough sticks is worth it.
3. Every major city has at least one night market -- and all of them are worth visiting to try local specialty snacks and shop for souvenirs. Taipei alone has several night markets, including Shilin and Raohe. The city of Keelung's night market is arguably the country's largest and most renowned.
5. Taiwan also has some crazy fruit that you're not going to see anywhere else, such as pink guava, wax apples, and 'Buddha's head.'
6. Taiwan's western coastline is made up of towns and cities, but the center of the island features beautiful mountains you can climb for breathtaking views. Hehuan Mountain and Ali Mountain are two top-rated scenic spots on TripAdvisor.
7. Another reward for climbing up to a scenic spot is a sight like this: a waterfall that cuts through the lush tropical greenery.
10. Taiwan currently has 9 national parks, which make up 8.6% of its land. Taroko National Gorge alone is worth spending at least two days hiking its numerous scenic trails.
13. Even the bathrooms in the metro stops are nice! Each restroom has a handy status sign that tells you before you enter which stalls are free and which are occupied.
15. A favourite Taiwanese pastime is hanging out at the local hot springs. You can visit public, communal hot springs in your bathing suit, or do as the locals do and soak in private baths (separated by gender) in the nude. They're located throughout the country, with a couple of the most famous being Beitou outside of Taipei, and Jiaoxi in Yilan.
16. Bar culture is not as popular in Taiwan as other countries, but the country is the proud maker of Kavalan, the 2015 winner of World's Best Single Malt Whiskey. You can visit the distillery in Yilan, or just pick up a bottle duty free at the airport.
17. Baseball is the national sport, and Taiwan is the world record holder for most Little League titles won (17!).
18. Taiwan was one of the first countries to embrace widespread free internet usage (even for tourists!). You can find free Wi-Fi at all train stations and most major tourist attractions.
19. There's a lot of artistic freedom in Taiwan. You can spend all afternoon wandering around artistic parks that house galleries, outdoor installations, and coffee shops, such as Huashan 1914 Creative Park in Taipei or Pier-2 Art Center in Kaohsiung.
20. If you are a cat person, you are guaranteed to like Taiwan. Not because of Hello Kitty, but actual cat cafes were first established in Taipei, before taking off in Japan and now the US. Cats are everywhere.
23. Taiwan is a place where you can expect to be unexpectedly charmed. For example, you might stumble upon a skilled group of swing dancers in the midst of a warehouse that has been converted to a shopping center and exhibition hall (Songshan Cultural and Creative Park).
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